The death of Muammar Gaddafi brings freedom to Libya in symbol alone. Politicians speculate what comes after Gaddafi could be worse, people in Libya are concerned about the National Transitional Council, and the world waits to see if Libya will be a “friend” or “foe.” One way Libya and the rest of the world can measure the change is through the ideology endorsed by those in power. Rebels may have killed Gaddafi, but a tyrant is always more than the man himself.
Gaddafi used ideology to control the country for 42 years; he didn’t use violence alone. He printed The Green Book describing a true democracy, which is a democracy free of communism and capitalism. While the wealth of Libya did increase when Gaddafi took power (he demanded a larger percent from the oil companies) the results were not felt in mass (i.e. they didn’t trickle down). Gaddafi outlawed political dissent, employed informant groups, and limited who held power. His state controlled media guarded headlines, pictures, stories and videos making it easier for Gaddafi to wield power.
Violence outshines ideology because it is easier to comprehend. People can imagine a man being shot, but we have a hard time grasping our thought process and how it is constructed by what’s around us. We especially have a hard time admitting that our decision may have been made for us. Ideology is a long-term solution on how to maintain power. Gaddafi ruled Libya for 42 years making him the fourth longest ruling non-royal leader since 1900 and the longest ruling Arab ruler. Let’s talk about the violence, sure, but let’s mention Gaddafi’s other tactics of control and instilling fear. The state controlled media is a constant source of lies because it comes direct from the state.
Libya is not the only country dealing with this issue. BBC, as reputable as people want them to be, should always be remembered as a state controlled medium. China, Russia, America and every other country with a printing press experiences the same issue. People must be given the knowledge to question everything they are told so they are aware of the lack of objectivity in a report. What Gaddafi said was true and any questions could result in a person disappearing. A month before the rebellion began in February articles appeared describing Gaddafi as the savior of Libya. We cannot accept any source as our only source, people must have access to information.
With the uprisings in Iran, Egypt, Libya and the like many have pointed to the Internet for being the difference maker. Since videos can be uploaded onto youtube and seen around the world (that is if country’s don’t have the site blocked) people see a different reality. When Libyan rebels were ready to take the capital of Tripoli in August, Gaddafi was heard on the controlled TV station and radio station claiming victory over the rebels was imminent. Even though he claimed victory was certain, Gaddafi pressed women and young men to join in the fight against the rebels:
“All Libyans must be present in Tripoli, young men, tribal men and women must sweep through Tripoli and comb it for traitors,” the Libyan leader said. “I have been out a bit in Tripoli discreetly, without being seen by people, and … I did not feel that Tripoli was in danger,” he added. August 23, 2011
When the city of Tripoli was taken by the rebels, Gaddafi returned to the airwaves to claim his departure from the capital was only a strategy and declared victory against the rebels. Look at your window and see the rebels ruling the street, but listen to your leader and don’t recognize the rebel. Pretty brazen.
Let’s remember Gaddafi convinced people he lived in a tent. When they discovered Lamborghinis, and gold draped compounds, it was a big awakening. If Libya is going to avoid a repeat, and end a civil war, then the discourse of ideas must be open. There cannot be one source of information and people cannot accept only hearing one side of an issue. People, including those in Libya, have to recognize there is more than one side to a story. In fact there are two, three, four, five…an endless number.
People have to be aware of the untrustworthiness of the media at all levels no matter how much they read. If a leader takes away your right to have an opinion of your own then that person should not remain in power. The people of Libya finally overturned their person but can they overturn his ideas? And what can the rest of the world take away from Libya? Are we going to continue to trust the controlled media and whatever our leaders say without question? Can we see the dangers it caused in Libya and use that to find dangers in our own environment?
The people of Libya start their true rebellion now. Killing off supporters, and Gaddafi himself, doesn’t take away the rigid rules of life, negative view of Israel, mistreatments to other ethnicities, and the lack of civil rights. Are the people of Libya going to continue to think and live this way under a new ruling power? If the answer is no then recognizing the dangers of controlled media must be one of the first steps.